Title of the report with hand-sketched elements - reads: (Team)Work in Practice

Collective, insights, ideas, and challenges to drive socio-economic inclusivity in your organisation.

Practice makes perfect progress

These three words have been a guiding light throughout the creation of (Team) Work in Practice, as well as the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) programme that informs it. They beautifully capture the shift in mindset that is crucial to improving working cultures long term.

Progress is iterative and takes time. Inclusivity is not a fixed state, it is a daily practice. This is true at the level of the individual, the organisation, and the sector. We believe paving the way forward with inclusive practices is crucial to the future health of our sector. We know that many arts and cultural organisations are already doing this work, and we understand the feeling of pressure to get it right. But as one contributor to this Toolkit told us, ‘What’s important is making sure that if there are mistakes, learn from them, and that’s the best you can hope for initially.’

This Toolkit isn’t a quick win, and there are no boxes to tick. Because this work isn’t easy. This Toolkit is grounded in the authentic knowledge, experiences, and expertise of people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds. Their collected voices illuminate the complex realities of inclusivity in practice, highlighting the everyday ways of working that don’t work for everyone.

Three things to know about this Toolkit

  • This Toolkit was created in collaboration with 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates, and centres their experiences and expertise on ‘what works’ in creating an inclusive workplace for people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds within the arts and cultural sector.
  • Instead of a checklist or framework, this Toolkit provides a collection of insights, ideas, and challenges to consider and try out. It does not claim to be comprehensive or authoritative, but to provide a starting point for wider reflection and discussion on what inclusivity might look like within your organisation.
  • These insights, ideas, and challenges are organised in five main sections. The opening section looks at how you can commit to becoming an inclusive organisation. The following sections explore approaches to inclusivity throughout each stage of an individual’s journey with your organisation: recruitment, induction, support in post, and professional development and onward progression.

Three takeaways from this Toolkit

  • There is no single set of experiences that defines what it looks or feels like to come from a working class/low socio-economic background. ‘It feels like a tidy box created by middle-class culture for people from other backgrounds.’ Experiences can vary wildly, especially when taking into account intersecting identities such as age, race, sex, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and family circumstances. You cannot make assumptions about how people want to be treated based on their socio-economic background.
  • You cannot assume that your own norms and expectations around standard working practices are shared by everyone, or that they will continue to work for everyone as you diversify your workforce. ‘If your mum and dad worked in an office job, they’re probably going to know what to do in a certain situation. Whereas if your mum and dad are manual workers, they’re not going to know what to do about it. A lot of knowledge is assumed.’
  • There is no fixed formula for inclusivity. Your organisational culture and practices need to be flexible enough to respond to different needs and circumstances as they arise. ‘It’s about understanding the individual and tailoring based on what their needs are.’

Three commitments your organisation can make to support inclusivity

Commit to carving out spaces for dialogue and support

  • This includes engaging in open dialogue with the people or communities you want to include, asking questions about their needs, and taking to heart what they have to say. It also includes creating a support network of trusted colleagues or critical friends who can provide candid feedback as you pursue this work, to help you check your plans and assess your progress.

Commit the resources to follow through on your plan

  • Inclusion plans need to be resourced, and this means committing money in your organisational budget to support this work. Too often, inclusion plans fall by the wayside because there isn’t enough money left after all the ‘essentials’. Treat your inclusion work as an essential within your budget, rather than as an add-on.

Commit to taking the time to get things right

  • ‘This isn’t something that’s just going to happen in a month or a year. I think it’s really easy for organisations to assume that they need to shake everything up overnight to show that they’re progressing, but actually, those of us that need these places to progress know how long it takes. Everyone is aware of the fact that change doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Persistent change and actual beneficial change take a while because foundations have to be laid.’

Practice makes progress means that you are never done with inclusivity. Your organisation is constantly changing, as are the needs of the people within it, and your approach to inclusivity will also need to change in response.

That’s why this Toolkit offers no fixed answers, just a set of ideas, insights, and challenges to progress the conversation and support your organisation to make progress.

“An inclusive approach requires an understanding that not everyone is coming from the same place”
Develop a plan for inclusion

How to use this Toolkit

What is this Toolkit about?

This Toolkit provides insights on how arts and cultural sector organisations and employers can provide meaningful support for people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds. It takes an intersectional approach to creating an empathetic and inclusive organisational culture, and driving socio-economic diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

Who is this Toolkit for?

This Toolkit is for anyone in the arts and cultural sector who is interested in advancing socio-economic diversity and inclusivity across the workforce. It is especially aimed at senior leaders, managers, and anyone responsible for people management, organisational culture, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. It may also be of interest to researchers, funders, and policymakers working on socio-economic diversity and inclusivity in the arts.

How can I use this Toolkit?

This Toolkit invites organisations and employers to listen to the voices of people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds, and to take to heart their insight and expertise on how to create a more inclusive working environment.

It does not offer a straightforward checklist or step-by-step framework for change because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it presents a collection of insights, ideas, and challenges to provide a starting point for wider reflection and discussion on what inclusivity might look like within your own context. The Toolkit does not need to be read in order, and you can dip in and out according to your organisation’s needs and interests.

This Toolkit can also be used in combination with Jerwood Arts’ Socio-economic diversity and inclusion in the arts: a toolkit for employers (2019), which provides top tips on taking a strategic approach to socio-economic diversity and inclusion, as well as case studies and extensive practical appendices.

What formats is this Toolkit available in?

This Toolkit is available in multiple accessible formats to help as many people as possible use it in a way that works for them.

The Toolkit is available as an accessible PDF for download, in large print, and as an audio recording. In addition, the summary ‘Practice makes perfect progress’ is available as an easy read.

All of these versions are available in both English and Welsh.

View all available formats.

How is this Toolkit organised?

This Toolkit is organised into five main sections. The opening section looks at how to commit to the process of becoming an inclusive organisation. The following sections explore approaches to inclusivity throughout each stage of an individual’s journey with your organisation: recruitment, induction, support in post, and professional development and onward progression.

Within each section, the content is organised into suggested actions relating to the section’s theme. These actions distill the key insights, ideas, and challenges from the individuals who contributed to this Toolkit. Underneath each suggested action is a selection of quotes from the contributors to illustrate the importance of that action through their lived experience of working in the sector.

What makes this Toolkit distinctive?

The Toolkit was created in collaboration with 2020-22 Fellows and Alumni Associates of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) programme. The 2020-22 programme offered 50 early-career individuals from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds year-long salaried creative roles in the arts and cultural sector, and provided organisational development support to improve inclusive practices to their Host organisations.

Unlike other resources, this Toolkit is wholly grounded in the authentic knowledge, experiences, and expertise of WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates on ‘what works’ in creating an inclusive workplace for people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds. No organisations or employers contributed to this content; all the suggested actions arise directly from the Fellows and Alumni Associates. The methodology is outlined in Appendix 1.

What is Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries?

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries has been the leading UK-wide programme focussing on socio‑economic diversity and inclusion in the arts and cultural sector since 2010. Over four editions it has created 173 jobs for early-career creatives from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds, alongside producing practical Toolkits on inclusive employment practices to drive organisational change across the sector. For more information about the WJCB programme, see Appendix 2.


Foregrounding the voices of the Fellows

Real inclusivity is the only route to a more sustainable future for the arts and cultural sector. To stay relevant to people’s lives across the UK, improving the socio‑economic diversity of the workforce, alongside inclusion for all those with protected characteristics, is paramount.

Jerwood Arts has been working in this space since 2010, recognising the real and perceived barriers around ‘class’ in the arts that hold back potential. Over four editions, the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) programme has created 173 jobs for early-career creatives from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds, becoming the leading UK-wide programme focused on socio‑economic diversity in the arts. In 2019, we published Socio‑economic diversity and inclusion in the arts: a toolkit for employers, a guide on how to ask questions, interpret data, and start talking about ‘class’.

This Toolkit presents the other side of the coin: the voices of people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds on ‘what really works’ to support their inclusion in the workplace, taking into account intersecting identities such as age, race, sex, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and family circumstances. This follows the shift in the 2020-22 WJCB programme towards focusing on organisational change to create more empathetic and inclusive working cultures, and away from supporting individuals to ‘fit in’.

In recent years, there has been a growth in the volume of research and resources on the inclusion of people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds in the workplace (see Appendix 3: Further resources). Each of these publications offers a valuable contribution, drawing on the expertise of researchers, consultants, policymakers, and organisations working to advance this agenda. But notably absent are the voices of people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds themselves, speaking about their lived experiences of what has (or hasn’t) worked to support their inclusion in the workplace.

That’s why this Toolkit foregrounds the authentic voices of the 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates, reflecting the programme’s shift of focus from individual mobility into arts jobs, towards organisational and structural change. This shift reflects learning from previous iterations of WJCB, and wider changes in cultural policy in the UK. This changing context is explored in more detail in Professor Dave O’Brien’s From social mobility to social justice: reflections on Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2020-22.

The Toolkit was developed through rigorous research with 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates. Drawing on group and one-to-one conversations and survey feedback, we heard rich and varied reflections on their experiences of inclusion at work and what changes would make the biggest impact for them. Their ideas, insights, and challenges are grounded in their experiences of working both within and beyond the arts and cultural sector, including on the WJCB programme, as well as before and since.

This Toolkit makes no claims of providing a comprehensive or authoritative reflection of the preferences of all people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds. There is no single set of views or experiences that defines what it means to be from this background, and there is no straightforward checklist or step-by-step framework for change.

Instead, we offer the insights of a small group who stepped forward to share their experiences and expertise in order to support positive change across the sector. While their lived realities are specific and individual, they provide a powerful starting point for reflecting on the challenges faced by people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds, and the actions that organisations and employers can take to create a workplace that works for them.

Note on language

This Toolkit is intended to reflect and amplify the voices of 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates on ‘what works’ in creating an inclusive workplace in the arts and cultural sector for people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds. By socio‑economic background or origin, we mean the particular set of social and economic circumstances that an individual has come from. This definition was developed by the Social Mobility Commission, an independent statutory body that monitors progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and is broadly shared across the public sector, private sector, charitable sector, and academia.

Socio‑economic background is typically measured by capturing information on parental/carer occupation and level of education. The best measure of socio‑economic background is considered to be the occupation of the main household earner when an individual was aged 14. An individual is considered to be from a working class/low socio‑economic background if their parent/carer worked in a technical and craft occupation; routine or semi-routine manual and service occupation; or was long-term unemployed.

The WJCB programme took a broader view of the Fellows’ socio‑economic backgrounds. For 2020-22 Fellows, this was determined through a combination of their eligibility for free school meals, what type of school they attended, their parent/carer’s highest level of academic qualification, their parent/carer’s occupation while they were growing up, and other life circumstances. For previous editions of the programme, the eligibility criteria required individuals to have been in receipt of a full maintenance grant at university, which was awarded on the basis of their total household income being less than £25,000 per year.

Throughout the research, the terms ‘working class’ and ‘low socio‑economic background’ were challenged by both the Toolkit steering group and contributors. We recognise that these terms are not perfect, and that they cannot do justice to the broad range of backgrounds and circumstances experienced by people who are considered to fall within these groups, especially where an individual’s socio‑economic background intersects with their other identities to impact their experience of inclusion in the workplace.

We also acknowledge that these may not be the terms that people from these backgrounds actually use to refer to themselves. Many people prefer to define or describe their socio‑economic background in different ways. Additionally, their relationship with this identity and their preferred terms to describe themselves may also evolve over the course of their life. During the research for this Toolkit, alternative terms that people used to describe their socio‑economic background included economic disadvantage, poverty circumstances, and benefits class. Others preferred to describe the specific circumstances of their socio‑economic background, rather than identifying with a label.

It is also important to emphasise that an individual’s socio‑economic background may differ from their current socio‑economic status. ‘Socio‑economic background’ relates to where an individual came from and the class context that shaped their lives growing up, whereas ‘socio‑economic status’ relates to where they are now and their current social class or position in relation to others. This Toolkit focuses on the inclusion of people from working class/low socio‑economic backgrounds, recognising the additional barriers that they may experience to accessing and developing careers in the arts and cultural sector.

“Organisations should be more open to sharing and learning when they get things wrong.”
Develop a plan for inclusion

How can we become an inclusive organisation?

1.1 Develop a plan for inclusion

1.1.1: There is no set formula for inclusivity. Each individual will require a tailored approach that works for your organisation. It needs to be a two-way conversation of listening, responding, and engaging in dialogue with the people or communities your organisation is trying to include.

“An inclusive approach requires an understanding that not everyone is coming from the same place and from the same lived experiences and backgrounds. It’s about understanding the individual and tailoring based on what their needs are.”

“There’s no one approach to being an inclusive organisation. The biggest thing that can make somewhere inclusive is to not try and follow one particular framework or one particular template. A lot of it is just about asking questions like, ‘What is your learning style?’ or ‘Is there a way that suits you better when it comes to meetings?’ It’s about responding to people and producing this open dialogue.”

1.1.2: Define what equity, diversity, and inclusion mean to your organisation. Create a plan based on the specific needs of your organisation, and be honest and transparent about your plans.

“Organisations need to actually have a diversity and inclusion policy. That’s the bare minimum, but a lot of places don’t have a diversity and inclusion policy, and if they do have one, it’s not available on their website. When I started in the organisation, I was like, ‘Do you have a diversity and inclusion policy?’ They said, ‘No, not really.’ I said, ‘Can I write one with you?’ They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll get around to it,’ and it just never happened. It was always at the bottom of the pile. I think it needs to be seen as a priority.”

1.1.3: Ensure that your equity, diversity, and inclusion plans are resourced appropriately. The best-intentioned plan will not produce any meaningful results if it is not backed up with the necessary resources to implement it properly.

“Becoming an inclusive organisation requires investment. It’s going to cost money. You need to really accept that you’re going to spend some of your budget on supporting people to thrive, not just survive.”

“Have someone specifically for diversity and inclusion, and make sure they’re paid for it and have time for it. If one person gets given the role of diversity and inclusion officer on top of their existing job, they’re probably not going to do it very well. They just don’t have time. Make sure it’s not just a name, it’s not just a title.”

1.2 Do it for the right reasons

1.2.1: Take the time to reflect on your reasons for wanting to improve diversity and inclusion within your organisation. Avoid treating inclusion as a tick-box exercise or something your organisation can do to improve its image. Inclusivity needs to have authenticity of intent. 

“You get a sense of when it’s a tick-box exercise and when it’s not. If an organisation can eliminate that from the start and make you feel a part of the organisation, make you feel worthy and valued in that position, then already you’re going to feel included.”

“There was always a slight note of disappointment with people. They were like, ‘You don’t sound very working class.’ They wanted someone who fit their image of what a working class person should be. You don’t want to feel like you’re a token.”

1.2.2: Avoid making people feel like they should be grateful to be included in your organisation. Inclusivity is not just about letting people of different backgrounds and identities into the room. It’s about creating a culture where everyone feels welcomed and valued. 

“They’ve given me so much support this whole time, so it felt that I had to perpetually be grateful they’ve given me this role. It felt like, ‘You’re this person who we picked up from the gutter. We’re looking after you and supporting you.’ It was very condescending.”

1.3 Commit to the process of change

1.3.1: Carve out time and space for your organisation to share, learn, and reflect on its approach to inclusivity, such as monthly team meetings or quarterly reflection sessions. When you’re in delivery mode, it’s easy to keep doing things the same way. Meaningful change will only happen when you make a commitment to reflect about how you could do things differently.

“A big problem within the industry is the capacity of the staff to be able to actually reflect on what it is that they’re doing. [My organisation] is a machine that does not stop. They are constantly working on projects. That means that no one’s reflecting about anything. So that means that then no one is taking the time to consider what we could do better and how we could do it in a more meaningful way. I’m a big believer that less is more. I’d rather do less work that is more meaningful and be able to reflect and then apply that to the next project, rather than just keep going and keep going.”

1.3.2: Recognise that the barriers to inclusion in your organisation cannot be solved in a single swoop, and you will not see change overnight. It is an iterative process, and your organisation needs to commit time and resources to making change over the long term.

“This isn’t something that’s just going to happen in a month or a year. I think it’s really easy for organisations to assume that they need to shake everything up overnight to show that they’re progressing, but actually, those of us that need these places to progress know how long it takes. Everyone is aware of the fact that change doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Persistent change and actual beneficial change take a while because foundations have to be laid.”

1.4 Learn from others, and support others to learn from you

1.4.1: Be upfront about where your organisation is at in its journey of change, and be willing to learn from your mistakes. No one expects your organisation to be perfect, as long as it is willing to be honest with itself and with others.

“You could tell [my organisation] was in the early stages of it, and there were a few kinks to iron out. But I think that will always be the case when places are trying to be more inclusive. What’s important is I think making sure that just if there are mistakes, learn from them, and that’s the best you can hope for initially.”

1.4.2: Check your plans with a critical friend who can provide honest and candid feedback to help you improve. It can be difficult to assess your own progress and areas for improvement, and an external figure can bring expertise and a fresh perspective.

“Have somebody check your plans, not just your own assessment of, ‘We know what we’re doing. We have a plan.’”

“There are some organisations that have external people come in and work with the organisation as change makers, and that’s really needed. If an organisation doesn’t have that resource, it requires their leader to be constantly reflecting and constantly trying to make things better, and that’s hard to do on your own when you’re inside of it.”

1.4.3: Share your learnings and practices across the sector so that you can hold yourself to account and support others to do the same. Be willing to learn from the experiences of other organisations and other sectors. This can be done, for example, through peer learning groups with other organisations or inviting guest speakers to share insights into the work that their organisation is doing on inclusivity. Cross-pollination of ideas and practices will catalyse change across the sector.

“Learning from other organisations, sharing the knowledge is a big thing and something that is really not that common in the arts. Organisations should be more open to sharing and learning when they get things wrong. That’s okay that you’ve got something wrong, as long as you can learn from it and you hold yourself to account.”

“Organisations definitely need to shout about their inclusive practices more, so that other organisations will start to listen and follow. When an organisation finds out that something’s possible, tell other organisations so that they know it’s possible too. You should be invested in the sector as a whole, and that’ll make the sector as a whole better.”

“There's so much jargon that gets put into job applications that isn't necessary.
Develop an inclusive recruitment pack

How can we take an inclusive approach to recruitment?

2.1 Develop an inclusive recruitment pack

2.1.1: Ensure the recruitment pack provides a clear and accurate representation of the role. People without existing connections in the arts may not know what different roles entail. This includes having a job title that captures the nature of the role, a job description that reflects the overall purpose and day-to-day realities of the role, and an organisational chart that shows where it sits within the wider organisation. If there is currently someone in the post, involve that person in developing the recruitment pack because they will know the role better than anyone.

“When you’re from a working class or low-income background, you know what it is to be a supermarket assistant, but there are jobs in the arts where I’m still finding out what they are. I still don’t really know what a producer is. That word on its own without that wider context is kind of meaningless for someone who’s never had any experience in the arts.”

2.1.2: When developing the person specification, reflect on what you need from the role and what skills and experience are truly required to do the job. Avoid being overly prescriptive about the level of education or experience required. Academic qualifications are not necessary for most early-career roles, and qualification requirements can exclude people who experience financial or other barriers to education. 

Similarly, for early-career roles, experience can usually only be gained by working for free, such as through an internship or a volunteer role. Focusing on experience excludes people who cannot afford to do that. Think more broadly about other characteristics that would make a candidate well suited to the role, such as attitudes, behaviours, transferable skills, and general willingness to learn.

“There are a lot of roles that require a degree but that don’t really need one. But maybe you have the same expertise from lived experience or something more abstract. It depends on the individual. It’s helpful to explicitly mention that you can have varied types of experience and say, ‘Please apply, even if you aren’t necessarily sure if it fits.’ It’s a much more inclusive way of recruiting because it takes away that judgement for not having a degree.”

“Coming from a low-income background I have never been able to afford to pay for experience or access to facilities, and I can’t work for free. I don’t think anybody should work for free, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.”

“I had a lot of skills that applied quite well to the production stuff that I ended up doing, and I’d gained that from bar work and events, but the only reason I realised that is because it had been phrased in a way that helped me see that is the same skillset. A lot of places will expect you to have worked in other arts organisations before, and I don’t think that that’s always helpful. You can gain so many skills that are relevant to the arts from other sectors. A lot of work at arts venues can be really similar to events work. It’s not so different that you couldn’t possibly apply that.”

2.1.3: Consider the accessibility of your language. Avoid using technical jargon, making references to internal systems, and using acronyms without spelling out what they mean. These can be learned on the job and may put off interested candidates from applying.

“There’s so much jargon that gets put into job applications that isn’t necessary. If you’re trying to attract people from backgrounds like me, who haven’t worked in the arts in a specific capacity yet, then you don’t need that.”

2.1.4: Create accessible versions of the recruitment pack to ensure that you are reaching the widest possible candidate pool. This might include easy-read, large-print, audio, and video versions (with options for captioning and British Sign Language interpretation). If your organisation is based in Wales, create versions of the pack in both English and Welsh. Anticipate the needs of your candidate pool, and proactively publish the recruitment pack in multiple formats instead of waiting to be asked.

“Rather than putting out one written standard document and saying, ‘If you need this in another format, contact this email address,’ just put it all out. That definitely helps with the initial outreach. You can’t expect people to feel like they will be accommodated if you won’t even do the bare minimum of accommodating their viewing of this job role. And I think it says a lot about an organisation when that’s not the case.”

2.1.5: Be upfront about what access support you are able to offer, both throughout the recruitment process and if they get appointed. It can be difficult for individuals to initiate this conversation themselves because of the power imbalance between the applicant and the employer. Access needs should be considered in relation to disability and also other life circumstances that might create additional challenges for the candidate, such as financial barriers, caring responsibilities, neurological needs, and hidden disabilities.

“There’s usually a line that says, ‘If you have a disability, get in touch, and we’ll be able to help you with the process.’ What it needs to actually say is, ‘If you have any difficulties with this process, please get in touch.’ I’ve got a hidden disability, and I don’t want to identify as disabled. Just make the process easier for everybody regardless of whether it’s because they have a disability or something else.”

“I’ve always found it helpful when organisations are upfront about things like whether they would cover travel costs to interviews and that kind of thing. If you are applying for a job that’s really far away and they expect you to come interview in person, that could make or break whether you’re going to apply for it. If you can’t afford to travel to them, there’s no point. There’s always that weird thing of having to email HR to ask if it’s covered. Are they going to look less favourably on my application if I do expect travel costs to be covered? Just have that upfront, even if it’s to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t cover it.’ That’s still helpful.”

2.1.6: Provide proper and fair pay for all roles. This means a living wage and a recognised industry standard rate of pay as a minimum. Be transparent about the salary range and benefits in the recruitment pack. Avoid asking candidates for their salary history, as it perpetuates a system where people who are underpaid remain underpaid. For more information on the real Living Wage, see the Living Wage Foundation.

“You can’t expect someone to apply for a job if they don’t know what they’re going to be paid. There are particular demographics that will be able to have faith that ‘Whatever I’m being paid, I’ll get by, so I can just do this job,’ but for a lot of people, their job is their one livelihood. That is how they feed themselves and keep a roof over their head.”

2.1.7: Set out the recruitment process and timeline upfront in the recruitment pack. This allows candidates to understand what will be asked of them and to manage their time accordingly. Ensure that there is sufficient time at each stage for candidates to prepare for the next step. Once you’ve set out the process and timeline, make sure you stick to it in practice.

“Enough time should be allocated to allow individuals to submit their best application and interview. Employers should want to see the best that the individual has to offer, and that can only be done if enough time is given.”

“If you say you’ll get back to everyone by the 25th, make sure you get back to everyone by the 25th. If the interview date is going to be the 17th, then the interview date’s the 17th, because the person applying has made sure they’re available in case they have an interview. People have probably taken the day off or paid for childcare to make sure they’re available for that date if they’re successful with their application.”

2.2 Cast a wide net when advertising a role

2.2.1: Conduct an open recruitment process, rather than simply relying on existing contacts and networks. People from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds may not have as developed networks, especially when they are first starting out. An open recruitment process can give them a way in, and bring fresh perspectives and ideas into your organisation.

“Word of mouth is great, but thinking as an outsider, how are you going to reach that if you’re not well networked?”

“To get a job in [my organisation] in the past, you either had to have worked with [the organisation] in a different capacity, or you had to know someone on the inside. There are so many people who can’t even get in there. It’s a huge problem because you’re just creating safe work. How are you going to work with new people and try new things and push boundaries?”

2.2.2: If you want to diversify your workforce, advertise in places that allow you to reach outside of your own networks (e.g. arts sector job boards, cross-sector job boards, your local Jobcentre Plus) or consider engaging the services of an inclusive recruitment agency. Posting job openings on your own website and communications channels will only allow you to reach your existing audiences.

“If you just post on your own social media, you’ll just get your own audience instead of the more diverse people you’re looking to hire.”

“When I look for jobs, I look on job sites like Indeed. Putting it on places where working class people will look is a really simple way to get people into the arts in terms of making the recruitment process inclusive.”

2.2.3: If you want your workforce to be representative of your community, advertise your job openings where local people will find them, such as in local newspapers, radio stations, social media groups, and community spaces. Build and leverage your relationships with the local community to help you get the word out about an opening. Make sure you also conduct interviews or auditions in places that are accessible to your local community.

“A really simple way to advertise a role is to print it on paper and put it on the door. You can’t expect people to go to the website and look in the hope that it’ll be there. If you really want to attract people who are walking past and who are actually in the local community, put it on the door.”

“Organisations need to acknowledge who the community leaders are in that local community that they work for. Some don’t even know who their local activists and local community members are. They need to have a system where they know who these people are and use them to spread the word.”

“There are so many people working in the front of house and the bars who are creatives themselves but then are never considered for any of the creative opportunities. Our artistic director at the time would go to London for auditions and audition everybody in London, instead of [locally in our city], where there was a whole group of people who could have auditioned. If you are an arts organisation aiming to be inclusive as a workplace and include your community in what you’re creating, then that seems like a really strange thing to do.”

2.3 Provide opportunities to learn more about the role before applying

2.3.1: Offer informal opportunities for prospective applicants to engage with your organisation before applying. This could be a drop-in session, one-to-one conversation with the line manager or current postholder, a blog post, or social media content. These send a clear message that you are open to new people, and will help them learn more about the role and assess whether it’s right for them.

“I appreciate if there’s a drop-in session to learn a bit more about the team and the organisation before you apply. Or an informal chat with whoever’s in that post because that person knows the post better than anyone. They do it day in, day out. It could be that they write a blog post or record a video for the organisation’s social media about what they do and what to expect in the role.”

“I know that a lot of places do a pre-application discussion for anyone who wants to come in and learn about the organisation, and I feel like that works really well. Once you know what you’d be signing up for, it might help you make an informed decision and also inform your own application process.”

2.4 Provide accessible ways to apply

2.4.1: Provide options of different ways that applicants can apply for the role, such as a written application, slide deck, audio application, and video application. Ensure that all formats give applicants equal opportunity to make their case for their candidacy. For example,one side of single-spaced A4 is around 500 words, whereas the average speaking rate is around 150 words per minute. So a one-page covering letter is equivalent to around three to four minutes of speaking.

“I’ve got dyslexia, so it takes me that little bit longer to write an application, and writing’s not the best form of selling myself. I find a video more helpful towards me. I feel like over video, they can see your passion, they can see your energy, they can see your whole aura. Whereas I feel like with writing, it probably isn’t as transparent.”

“I’ve got working full-time and shared parenting, so my week is planned out. I have no issue with writing an application, but it takes me longer to do than it does for me to video something and just talk about it. That’s why I usually just record stuff because it takes less prep. I can decide what I’m going to say and just say it.”

2.5 Conduct an inclusive interview process

2.5.1: When assembling the interview panel, keep in mind that advocating for yourself to a group of people you’re meeting for the first time can be intimidating. Keep the panel as small as possible: three people at most.

“Anything more than three people can be quite intimidating.”

2.5.2: Examine the overall diversity of the interview panel to make sure candidates can see themselves reflected in the panel, as this will help put them at ease. If there isn’t already someone from that background in your organisation, consider bringing in a trusted external interviewer. Make sure you are transparent about their relationship to the organisation to avoid giving the wrong impression about the current make-up of the organisation. A diverse interview panel can also help reduce the risk of unconscious bias.

“It helps having someone on the panel who looks like you and is possibly from the same culture and speaks like you. When I interviewed for my company, at the beginning of the interview, I was so nervous. But during the interview, there was someone there who looked like me and started talking to me like we were on the street, and that just took me down a notch. And then for the remaining part of the interview, I felt a lot more comfortable, especially when he was asking me the questions and I was speaking to him.”

2.5.3: Consider the accessibility and atmosphere of the interview environment. Interviews can be stressful for the candidate, and a comfortable or relaxed environment can help candidates to perform at their best. This includes consideration of any access needs or preferences that need to be taken into account.

“It helps taking it to a space that’s a bit more relaxed. So thinking about a coffee shop, if it suits you. A quiet space, if that suits you. I did the interview for [my role] in a coffee shop, and the informal atmosphere was superior.”

“The interview should be fully accessible in whatever environment it’s in. I’m hard of hearing, and loud environments don’t work for me, so I wouldn’t like an interview in a coffee shop. You need to be considerate of the needs for each individual.”

“I personally found that a Zoom interview really helped me. I freeze up when I’m in an interview, and I can never remember what I had planned to say. With Zoom, I was able to have notes, and I could subtly look at my notes, so I was able to articulate myself in the way I’d rehearsed. Because you do have to rehearse if you weren’t raised in that way where you know how to sell yourself.”

2.5.4: Tell the candidates in advance of an interview what to expect and what questions will be asked. This will reduce the pressure on them and help them feel more comfortable. This might include information such as who will be in the interview, what they can wear, and what the interview format will be.

“With roles where you’re not wearing a suit and tie and trousers every day, you should just be expected to come as you are, in whatever clothes you would wear to work every day. I would show up to interviews in a tracksuit for jobs where I worked with young people, because that’s what I would be wearing every day, but I still felt that I needed to explain it.”

“Not everyone responds well to being put on the spot. Interviews are really scary. If you’re going to put someone who’s not necessarily comfortable in that environment on the spot, they don’t know what to expect, and they’re being thrown these big questions. It puts them at a really unfair disadvantage. Providing the questions or an indication of the sorts of things that they’ll be asked, can alleviate someone’s anxieties, because actually most of us have them.”

2.5.5: Bring the interview panel together in advance to agree your roles and ensure that everyone is comfortable and well prepared. Be friendly and present during the interview to put the candidate at ease. Speak in a conversational tone, and show that you’re interested in what they have to say.

“I get that they need to ask specific questions to determine if they have the right skills for the job, but they could ask questions in a friendlier way to find out the same information.”

“The interviewee needs to know that they’ve got your attention and that you’re listening to what they’ve got to say. If you are too busy staring at your notepad and not really engaging with them, you’re not making a good impression on them. If you’ve decided that they need to do a presentation, then they need to present to someone. They need to know that they’ve got 100 percent of your attention for that whole period of time.”

2.5.6: Provide opportunities in the interview process for candidates to demonstrate their skills instead of only talking about them theoretically. Not all candidates are confident promoting themselves or selling their abilities, especially if they were not brought up in a culture where this was encouraged.

“In my interview, I had to pitch for a project and give a breakdown of how I would use the budget and hire people for the project. I felt stronger at that because I could show how I would do the job, and I appreciated the chance to give them a taste of what it would be like if they hired me, because it’s based on skills instead of my ability to talk. I don’t think the way I was brought up was with the ability to sell myself.”

2.5.7: Try to streamline how much work you are asking candidates to do as part of the recruitment process, as this work is unpaid labour. Keep the ask to what is necessary to help you make your decision, and communicate your expectations to the candidates clearly. If any bespoke or more time-consuming preparation is required, such as a presentation or an interview task, consider paying candidates for their time.

“I’m a freelancer, so I’m in a very good position where I know how long certain things will take me because obviously I need to know how much to charge. Once when I was applying for a job, they gave me a task that I needed to do for the interview, and I worked out that it was eight hours’ work. That’s a full day’s work that I’m not going to get paid for, and I have to push everything else aside. There are definitely certain jobs, especially hands-on creative roles, where they expect too much of you in the preliminary stages of the recruitment.”

“If you ask for a presentation, keep it to just a select few, and make sure they’re paid for their time, because it does take like a full day to put a presentation together. Be mindful of the work people are putting in.”

“All of us who interviewed got paid for our time. There was financial support in terms of having to spend time preparing a presentation. It was incredibly well done, and I feel like it was the best recruitment ever.”

2.6 Provide notification and feedback to unsuccessful candidates

2.6.1: Provide timely notification to candidates if their application was unsuccessful. Wherever possible, provide feedback about how they could improve, and maintain a relationship with unsuccessful candidates to let them know about other opportunities that come up in the future. This encouragement and advice can play an important role in supporting their development and helping them to make decisions about their future.

“If you don’t even respond to that application either way, it’s so disheartening. A response either way is very helpful because people can put things on hold for a job, and when they’ve put that much effort into it, I think it’s common courtesy.”

“There needs to be better feedback from organisations when we’re not successful, not just to say that you weren’t successful because another candidate had more experience than you, but actually give specific pointers about what you need to improve on.”

“Organisations should set up a database of candidates who weren’t successful, so then when the next role comes up, they might reach out and say, ‘We saw your previous application for that role, and we think you might be a good fit for this role, so please apply if you’re interested.’”

For further guidance on developing an inclusive recruitment process, including an action plan for baseline and advanced practice, see Jerwood Arts’ Socio-economic diversity and inclusion in the arts: a toolkit for employers (2019).

“Get in the introductions straight away and embed [the new starter] in the organisation.”
Be intentional in helping new starters to settle in

How can we take an inclusive approach to induction?

3.1 Ensure the induction is set up for success

3.1.1: Before a new starter even comes into post, provide clear communication about what to expect when they start. Give them a schedule in advance for their first day and first week, and consider arranging an informal get-together with their team or an informal tour of your working space before their start date. This will help set expectations and reduce the anxieties of starting a new job.

“Pre-induction processes can give you an opportunity to understand what you’re coming into before you start and can reduce some of the first-day pressures and set expectations sooner.”

3.1.2: Create a new starter checklist or schedule to help establish expectations about what is involved and ensure that all essential induction processes are covered.

“Something that would be really nice on an induction level is if you get told all the training that you’re going to have to do. I remember being surprised by different emails being like, ‘We’re going to have this training next week.’ And I was like, ‘How many more training things do I have to do?’”

“It wasn’t immediately obvious to me how I was going to be inducted or who was going to induct me. It was a bit reactive rather than proactive. Someone would say something in a meeting like, ‘So-and-so is going to induct you on that,’ as a result of something happening, but it didn’t feel very clear. I needed a clear list of what was involved.”

3.1.3: Ask about their needs and preferences so that you can tailor the induction process to help them get the most out of it.

“Give people the option: ‘How would you like to be inducted? Would you like to be inducted meeting people individually? Would you like to do it in a group? Would you like to do it online? Would you like to do it in person?’ The most inclusive way to do it is to make sure that it’s suited for each person because not all people are the same.”

3.2 Be intentional in helping new starters to settle in

3.2.1: Arrange introductions to different people and teams to lay the groundwork for developing relationships with colleagues, knowing who to contact about different issues, and understanding the overall culture of the organisation.

“My first week was only doing one-to-ones to meet the team. No pressure on any work. I know everyone’s name. I know everyone’s faces. I know what everyone does. Everyone knows what I do. Everyone knows where I sit within the team, who’s my line manager, what my focus is for the next year. It was as much for me to get an understanding of the team as it was for the team to get to know me.”

“Make sure in the first few weeks that they meet all the people they need to meet. Otherwise, in two weeks, if they need help getting something done, they’ll be put in a position like, ‘I know we haven’t met yet, and I know you don’t know who I am and what my job is, but I need this done.’ That’s no good to either party. Get in the introductions straight away and embed them in the organisation.”

“That person’s line manager should initiate conversations for them with everyone in the organisation or the core people in the organisation and the team. It’s really unfair to ask the person starting to initiate these conversations. How is someone supposed to know how to approach that when they first start?”

3.2.2: Provide an orientation to the physical space where they will work and any equipment that they will need to use. Ensure that they understand any health and safety policies and procedures. Health and safety are paramount, and an individual may not know what provisions they are entitled to if they have not been in a similar environment before.

“Give a tour of where they’re going to be working and show them where they can find people if they need them. Make sure they can access the printer and know the code. Basic stuff like that. You need to do these things.”

“Because I’d just gotten on with things silently, everyone assumed that I’d been shown what was going on. I was never told the building passcodes, so I had just been sneaking in every time I saw that someone had opened the door. It wasn’t until they were showing around [the next new staff member] that they realised they’d never done that for me. It would’ve been good for someone to ask and check to make sure.”

3.2.3: Take the time to walk them through basic information and standard practices as soon as possible when they start. If someone has never worked in a similar role before and doesn’t have anyone in their family or social circle with that kind of experience, everything about it will be new to them, especially if it’s their first time working on payroll, in an office, or in an arts organisation. 

“If it’s your first job or you’re coming into a role from a freelance or zero-hours background, you will not be familiar with the employment side of things, like holiday pay and sick pay, and that should be accounted for and accommodated as part of the induction process.”

“There’s such a lack of transparency because of all this assumed knowledge, this cultural capital, which has gone down the generations. If your mum and dad worked in an office job, they’re probably going to know what to do in a certain situation. Whereas if your mum and dad are manual workers, they’re not going to know what to do about it. A lot of knowledge is assumed.”

“I really struggled with when I was considered ‘at work’ and when I wasn’t. I was expected to see every show that we did, but one time I brought a friend with me, and we had a couple of drinks, and they were like, ‘Why are you drinking at work?’ But going to shows wasn’t included in my hours. So am I at work, or am I not? Press nights I also found slightly difficult to navigate. There were a lot of unspoken rules in terms of how much you were allowed to drink, but it was never explicitly said. I’d never been in a job where boozy events like that were a thing. I worked at bars before where it was always very explicit that you do not drink while you’re working. Here you were supposed to take the lead from the senior managers, but that was never specified. There was this idea that you’d just know how to behave in that environment.”

3.2.4: Be intentional about explaining to them why things work the way they do. If you’ve worked in a place for a while, ways of doing things can seem obvious or routine, but someone coming into an organisation for the first time will not have any of this institutional knowledge. 

“An inclusive approach is not assuming that this person knows everything about the organisation, knows everything about the role. What they’ve come from before, almost definitely they’ve done stuff in a completely different way. To be treated as if you are completely fresh is a good thing, and then you let them know what you know rather than the other way around of them assuming that you know everything or assuming that you’ve done stuff like this before.”

3.3 Make adjustments to accommodate individual needs

3.3.1: Be willing to change in order to accommodate individuals’ needs. If your organisation wants to include more diverse voices and perspectives, it cannot expect these people to change themselves in order to accommodate the needs of your organisation. Your organisation needs to be open to change.

“Organisations are hiring more marginalised artists but aren’t changing the ways that they work in order to accommodate them or learn from their practice. They need to think about the ways that these communities work because it’s not fair to them otherwise.”

“Certain personality types or neurotypes are not equipped to deal with certain situations that might arise as part of a role. This isn’t something an individual can just change at will, so why can’t the role be tailored to better meet a person’s needs instead?”

“You can’t expect the person coming in to change around the organisation’s working practices. The organisation needs to be willing to put the change in as well. If you don’t have the infrastructure in place to support them in the role, there’s no point. It’s worse than not hiring them in the first place.”

3.3.2: Offer flexibility around how people can structure their working lives in order to achieve work-life balance, accommodate their individual needs, and suit their working preferences. Proactively ensure that they are aware of the options available instead of waiting to be asked. Schedule regular catch-ups throughout the probationary period to ensure that both sides are comfortable with their working arrangements.

“There’s something about making the assumption that someone will need another way of working and putting things on the table, especially with flexible working and working from home. If we work from that assumption, it will be more inclusive because you’re not making somebody list out exactly what they need or exactly why they need it. Speaking from my own experience, I know that I feel more comfortable if I’m given options. It makes it easier to be a bit more open and comfortable with an organisation, as opposed to feeling like you are demanding something. When an organisation is the one to get everything out, it lessens the anxiety around asking for what you need.”

3.3.3: Ask the individual what they need from the organisation in order to do their best work. This information may be captured in the form of an access document or access rider. While this concept was originally developed to support disability access needs, it can be adapted to cover wider needs relating to other life circumstances, working preferences, and personal values. For more information on creating an access document or access rider, see Access Doc for Artists or Unlimited.

“[My line manager] actually sat us down and made us as a team do our own individual access riders, and then we had a team one where we compiled all of our access needs and how they mesh. We included everything from travel to hybrid working, not necessarily just access needs relating to disabilities. It made me really think about my needs.”

“When I started, I did a ‘ways of working’ exercise where we talked about ways that I was comfortable working and ways that I wasn’t comfortable working. My line manager also asked me to outline what commitments I had outside of work, which made it easier for our team to tailor things around everyone’s commitments.”

3.3.4: Focus on what reasonable adjustments your organisation can make to support an individual rather than prying into why these adjustments are needed. People may not always feel comfortable sharing the reasons for their support needs with their employer.

“I have a long-term health condition, and when it flares up, I can get really lethargic, and things are a bit more difficult, but I never disclosed that. There is that assumption that you should disclose about health conditions or you should disclose certain things so that they can then be aware of it or they can then accommodate you. But I think actually an inclusive organisation is one that addresses those without you having to disclose because not everyone’s going to want to. People aren’t always going to be their best, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not doing well in their job. It just means that either they’re just having a bad day where they’re tired or there’s something else going on. It’s not down to them to put out their entire health or mental health records to you as an organisation.”

“It’s more about putting things on the table like, ‘Would this work for you?’ or ‘Does this meet your needs?’ rather than asking more pointed questions like, ‘Do you have any health concerns that we need to know about?’ The goal of asking those questions isn’t to get a specific answer from the individual about their personal situation but to gather their interest in the options that the organisation offers.”

3.3.5: Where possible, make reasonable adjustments in response to people’s working needs and preferences. Be honest and transparent when it isn’t possible, and explore alternative solutions together. Complete this process during the probationary period, so everyone can be confident about moving forward. 

“Don’t make empty promises if something can’t be done. Just be like, ‘This can’t be done. What else can we do?’ Then we can have a conversation about that. The worst thing to do as an organisation is to stay silent. Have a conversation with the individual. Ask if they know any funds that the organisation can go for or anyone they can speak to for advice. If people have that partnership with their organisation and can equally pull weight, it’s going to make the load a lot easier for the individual and the strain a lot easier.”

“Don’t rely on people coming into the organisation to be the ones to change it… Everyone needs to be involved.”
Cultivate an inclusive organisational culture

How can we take an inclusive approach to support in post?

4.1 Ensure that there is an effective system of one-to-one support

4.1.1: Implement a system of regular one-to-one check-ins for ongoing feedback and support.  These check-ins provide an important opportunity to connect in a safe space about how things are going and can boost overall job satisfaction and morale.

“I had a weekly one-to-one with my line manager, and it was so helpful. As soon as it stopped, my work went downhill. I felt like I couldn’t cope anymore because I didn’t have anyone to mitigate things, someone to temper it or to explain things to me or to ease me in.”

“I didn’t have a line manager until halfway through [my job], so I felt a bit directionless and didn’t have much support. Once my line manager started, I had weekly one-to-ones, and everything got so much better! I felt way more confident in my ability to do my job and felt able to ask for help.”

4.1.2: Ensure that one-to-ones are genuinely useful to the individual, rather than creating additional pressure or work. They should strike a balance between a consistent structure and a flexible, responsive approach, depending on the needs and preferences of the individual. This balance might shift if their circumstances change.

“My one-to-ones always followed the same structure, which didn’t really match up to what I needed. It was a simple structure that focused on my day-to-day performance, and it worked near the beginning, but by the point that my employment was coming to an end and I was thinking about what I’m going to do next, it didn’t feel like I was really being listened to or really asked anything. It didn’t feel truly interested in me.”

“I had a document that I needed to fill out for my one-to-one every week with what I had been working on in the past week and what I was planning to work on next. This ended up being more stressful than doing the work itself. A less formal check-in would have been better.”

4.1.3: Ensure that line managers prioritise one-to-ones with their direct reports and conduct them at regular intervals so that individuals know when they will be able check in with them and have markers to work toward.

“One-to-ones need to be things that happen regularly and that the employee knows the line manager is committed to doing and it’s not an afterthought. It needs to be like, ‘I can’t do this other meeting because I’ve got my weekly one-to-one with my employee now,’ rather than a last-minute ‘I can’t do our one-to-one this week because something came up.’ It needs to be a commitment that you’ve stuck to. That was really important for me to know that [my line manager] really cared in terms of keeping employees happy and well looked-after.”

“If you have regular check-ins, people are able to express when their needs have changed or when they just need a little bit extra support. Sometimes you can feel so uncomfortable trying to bring something up, and it’s like, ‘Well, I just won’t. It’s easier that way, and I’ll just leave it.’ If it’s a regular check-in, that really helps, because then people can say, ‘Actually, this doesn’t work for me anymore. How about we try this way?’ They don’t have to schedule in a time or make it weird to bring it up.”

4.1.4: Ensure that line managers proactively offer support to their direct reports, and provide clear outlines of what support is available in different situations. Asking for help requires confidence, and it can be difficult to do this, especially from people in positions of power.

“People from marginalised and low-income backgrounds have had no voice. You don’t ask because you know you’re not going to get. Nobody wants to hear my voice. No one ever told you to ask. It’s not enough to say, ‘If you need anything, just send me an email.’ You need to be proactive in checking in with that person. That means somebody in the organisation taking responsibility to have that time with that person and say, ‘What do you want to do with this, how can we support you, and what do you need?’”

“Something that I found happens a lot is that people will very nicely [say], ‘If you need any help with anything, come to me and talk to me.’ I find that really difficult because it’s so non-specific, especially if they’re your boss. There’s already a power dynamic, and you don’t necessarily want to go to them with anything. What I found more helpful is changing that language to be like, ‘If you need help with this, this, or this, I’m very capable of helping you. If you need help with this, this, or this, these people are capable of helping you.’ That feels much more inclusive and accessible than, ‘Come to me with anything.’”

4.1.5: Ensure that line managers are properly equipped to manage their direct reports and support them to do their best work. This includes being given training on the key skills for line management, having the capacity and resources to create a supportive environment for their direct reports, and having their own support system around them to help them to succeed as a line manager.

“That person who was line managing me didn’t really have the right training to manage. They’re in a management role, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have those skills. There should be line management training if you’re going to be put in a position like that. You need training to manage the team.”

“My line manager was having issues of her own in her employment. She felt unsupported in her role. So how is she going to support me when she feels unsupported?”

4.2 Ensure access to wider infrastructures of support

4.2.1: It can be useful to have a listening ear outside of the formal organisational structure to lean on for empathy and advice, such as a buddy system or an informal support group. It may be intimidating to raise questions or concerns with people in positions of power. Having a safe space to talk things through with a peer can be a useful first line of support.

“It was useful to have someone to ask questions to and not be judged about my inexperience. We didn’t have set times, and I could just ask questions as I needed.”

“If you haven’t been in that environment before, it helps having someone in particular dedicated to being there whilst you’re learning, even if it’s super hands-off. Just knowing that there is this one dedicated person so that if you do need to go to them, you feel less like, ‘I’m really annoying this person by asking them too many questions today.’ It would most likely be someone in a similar position or just similar level that you are. When you’re on the same level, it makes it a bit easier to ask certain questions.”

4.2.2: Ensure individuals are empowered to raise issues when they arise. This means having clear policies and procedures for escalating concerns, and making sure people know where to find this information. Recognise that it may not always be appropriate for issues to be raised with their line manager or within their reporting line, and provide options for escalation via other routes.

“At [my former organisation], if you had a problem with the director, you had to talk to them about it. That’s very difficult to do. There was no separate body outside the organisation to talk to. That didn’t exist. I thought that was really problematic. It would be helpful to have a neutral body—someone to talk to or someone to come in and highlight what’s been raised, rather than always going up that hierarchy.”

4.3 Cultivate an inclusive organisational culture

4.3.1: Be open to new ways of doing things and broaden your expectations of what ‘professionalism’ looks like in terms of work style, behaviours, dress, and speech. Contemporary standards of professionalism tend to centre whiteness, maleness, ableness, and middle-classness, and therefore implicitly discriminate against people who don’t fit into these categories.

“I came in thinking that’s what I’m bringing to this role—my own background, my own perspectives. When I began to interact with people differently to the way the organisation’s ever interacted with their staff, that was challenging for them. It wasn’t, ‘That’s a different point of view. We haven’t looked at that before. How can we integrate this, or how could we learn about this?’ Instead, it was like, ‘You’re not doing the same as us, so you should stop doing that.’ We have to be open to other people’s ways of doing something because there’s always a reason why one person thinks the way they do.”

4.3.2: Everyone across your organisation has a role in making it more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. Avoid putting the onus on people from under-represented backgrounds to be the spokesperson for that group or to lead on your diversity initiative, as this places a lot of pressure on them.

“Don’t rely on the people that are coming into the organisation to be the ones to change it. They can’t be the ones to change an entire organisation. It has to be an organisation-wide conversation. Everyone needs to be involved.”

“When I was brought in, I was immediately put on the diversity and inclusion panel. I understand why they’d done it, but it felt like they were putting that on me. I hadn’t actually expressed an interest in being on that panel. There’s a balance to strike between hearing the opinions of the people that you’re trying to bring in and putting the onus on them to make the change in the organisation when it shouldn’t really have to come from them.”

4.3.3: Respect people’s boundaries around work. This includes recognising the parameters of their job responsibilities and their time. Asking people to work outside of their contract is akin to asking them to work for free. Your business model cannot need to rely on people going above and beyond the call of duty in order to keep things running.

“I think that happens a lot, where expectations of employers are higher than what you are actually employed to do, and it’s not fair. It’s unreasonable. If you’re in a creative industry, typically you’re going into it because it’s a job you want. There’s not a huge number of jobs out there that people love. This is a job that I do love, but that doesn’t mean that they’re entitled to overwork me. You can’t exploit someone just because they’re passionate about their work and they care about doing a good job.”

“One thing I want to highlight is that my clients do not own all of my time. They’ll message me, ‘Can you do this extra work for us because we’re really full-on at the moment, but we’re not going to pay you extra for it?’ That happens a lot, and I think it’s because everyone tries to bring up a friendly relationship. They think if you’re friends, that means you work for free sometimes. That’s not how it works. If you want to push that to include more work, you have to include more pay. You do not own all their time. You have rented their time.”

4.3.4: Ensure that workloads are achievable and proportionate to people’s capacity. Take care of people’s physical and mental health first, and avoid a culture of burnout.

“Physical health and mental health should come first because if they’re not supported, then you won’t have people to come back. If we don’t look after each other, there won’t be any work made, because no one will be there to make it.”

“If the whole team can’t do the workload that they’re given, if everyone is struggling, they don’t need mindfulness or a mental health seminar. They need more staff. If you’re having to stay behind every day because your workload’s too [high], that’s nothing to do with personal mental health. That’s the company failing to equip the team with enough staff.”

4.4 Ensure your approach to pay, benefits, and expenses is equitable

4.4.1: Have regular salary review points to ensure that individuals are getting paid fairly for their work in relation to their responsibilities, their performance within the role, and the wider job market. Provide transparency around what is needed to achieve an increase.

“There should be regular conversations around salary and ensuring responsibilities match with the pay.”

“Organisations are uncomfortable negotiating pay or discussing a pay raise. But they should be direct and have clear targets and goals for achieving a certain pay level.”

4.4.2: Consider instituting more frequent pay cycles. Getting paid more regularly, such as weekly or biweekly, can help individuals to manage their finances more effectively. It can also help freelancers get paid more quickly by reducing the time between their invoice and your next payment run.

“I get paid monthly, but if it was up to me I’d definitely get paid weekly or every two weeks. As a working class person, it’s very typical to have money issues. If you’ve grown up with not a lot of money and all of a sudden, you’ve got over £1,000 in your account, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’m rich.’ So you’re more prone to money issues. It would be absolutely amazing to have the option to get paid more regularly.”

“Freelancers need to be paid more regularly. Often companies have a one-month payroll.  In the June payroll, [the organisation I freelanced for] said, ‘Sorry, we can’t do it this month. We’ll do it next month.’ There was no explanation for it. I rely on that. That’s my bills. That’s my house. So more regular payment is really, really important.”

4.4.3: Ensure that people are aware of their wider employment benefits, and encourage them to make use of these benefits. Be mindful of hidden barriers to access that can prevent everyone from taking advantage of benefits equally.

“My organisation had a small budget for staff mental health support, but you had to spend the money first and claim it back from the organisation. Although that works in principle, not everyone has that money to start with, so it was a nice thing that happened that added a different pressure.”

4.4.4: If an individual will be incurring work expenses, provide information upfront about what systems are in place to cover their expenses, such as corporate cards and petty cash. Organisations cannot rely on individuals to pay out of pocket for work expenses, even if only temporarily, as doing so can put their personal finances at risk.

“Rather than having employees pay upfront for expenses and then reimbursing them later, give them a corporate card or petty cash. I’ve had to post things overseas, and it cost me £150 of money that I didn’t have, but I couldn’t say no because it was someone really important in the company asking me to do it.”

“You can’t imagine a future if you haven’t seen it and don’t even know what it is.”
Encourage open dialogue about development and progression

How can we take an inclusive approach to supporting professional development and onward progression?

5.1 Provide opportunities for people to develop within their role

5.1.1: Give time and space for people to settle into a role before adding new responsibilities or pushing them to think about their professional development and next steps. Focus your support on what’s happening for them right now, rather than what’s coming up next.

“I only really started thinking about professional development, probably around six months into my role. Initially, it was more about, ‘How can I be best supported in my learning of the role?’ It was very much in the now as opposed to looking forward. I was focusing so much on the role that I wasn’t able to even think about what I wanted next, which is the case for a lot of people.”

5.1.2: When they are ready, give people opportunities to develop within their role by taking on new or additional responsibilities. Ensure that these responsibilities are at the right level of challenge for them and that they have the infrastructure and support around them to help them succeed.

“It’s important to help people to develop within their role, like letting them take the lead on running a meeting or one aspect of a project. I was given some of the smaller-scale projects to manage. I knew that there was a safety net of [my line manager] there if I needed it, but he basically let me run the meetings and the project so that I could develop. He was great because he was really interested in developing other people and making sure that they had the skills that they wanted.”

“You need to take into account people’s base confidence level in themselves. I was recently offered a chance to lead a project, but I have zero experience or idea of where to start, so I will definitely need a conversation with my line manager about where to begin. At the moment it feels like a really big mountain to climb, but I don’t feel stressed out because I have a supportive circle around me.”

5.2 Encourage open dialogue about development and progression

5.2.1: Promote a culture of open dialogue about development and progression. It is healthy for people to want to learn and grow, and organisations should want to support their workforce to succeed.

“It’s a good thing for an organisation to tell people that conversations about progression can be had. When you are in an organisation, sometimes it’s really difficult to feel like you can question what your next steps will be. But instead having it as an open dialogue and encouraging thinking about career paths and thinking about that journey, it’s super useful to hear.”

5.2.2: Proactively help people to identify their development goals and suggest ideas to address them. If an individual is new to the sector or to their role, they may have difficulty knowing what they can ask for to support their professional development. 

“You can’t expect someone just starting out in a role to understand what they need. You need to help them understand what they need.”

“I didn’t even realise that I could go to training, I could go to conferences. I’d never thought in my life, ‘I’m going to look for a conference to go to,’ because I didn’t know they existed. The company should offer training and offer the chance to go to conferences rather than making the employee look for it themselves, because they may not know where to start.”

5.2.3: Provide a guided and individualised approach to professional development and growth. A coach or mentor can help the individual to see above the day-to-day of their current role and take a long-term view of where they want their career to go.

“My line manager was also my mentor. He was really clear that he wanted to support my next steps, and our mentorship was not just about my development within the organisation but about my wider development as an artist and where I can go.”

“It’s really essential that people in organisations are encouraged to mentor young working class or marginalised people. That would be amazing for so many people. Even just telling working class people that mentors are a thing. When you’re working class, no one helps you. I didn’t know it was a thing that a person would give up their time for free to help you.”

5.2.4: Support individuals to understand different possible career pathways both within and outside your organisation. Provide guidance on next steps to consider, and offer opportunities such as shadowing different roles in your organisation. People need to be able to imagine the future before they can plan for it, and those from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds have typically had less exposure to career pathways in the arts because there are fewer people from their own networks working in the sector.

“In terms of personal development and moving up, organisations need to help everyone understand what each role does in an organisation and what the day-to-day of those roles is like. That’s how you can aspire to it, because you can’t move up in terms of your career if you don’t know what you’re moving up to. Don’t assume that people know these things. It’s really difficult to think about personal development if you can’t imagine the role that you’re going into. You can’t imagine a future if you haven’t seen it and don’t even know what it is.”

5.2.5: Take time to understand an individual’s long-term goals. Look for ways that your organisation can use its resources to support them to work toward their goals, especially where there is alignment between their goals and the needs of the organisation.

“I made it quite clear to [my organisation] from the outset what I wanted to be doing long-term, and they encouraged me to use my role to develop my creative practice. I found it liberating to be encouraged to develop my practice and learn.”

“There’s a lot more that can be done to identify what people’s ambitions are. Organisations should want to honour that and keep them there. How can we keep you? How can we help you progress in your career within our institution?”

5.2.6: If there aren’t any progression opportunities available for individuals within your organisation, be honest and transparent about it. Use your organisation’s resources to support their next steps instead.

“There was a degree of there not actually being that much progression available. Once you developed to a certain point, either you waited for your manager to leave, or you moved on to somewhere else, and that wasn’t really communicated. There needs to be more clarity on pathways and how much progression is likely. Make that clear if you view it as something that people will use as a springboard, and be willing to help people when they are planning to move on elsewhere, without repercussions for their current role.”

5.2.7: Proactively show individuals that you support and believe in them. Encourage them and help them build their confidence. Support networks can play a transformative role in supporting an individual’s self-belief, and people with more class privilege tend to have stronger support networks within the sector than those from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds.

“The good moments of my professional development, there was someone there to support me, like a line manager, a colleague, or a mentor. The bad moments, I felt isolated and alone. It’s so important to feel believed in by someone and to have that on-going support from an individual. Someone in your corner who knows where you want to go or can help you to figure that out.”

5.3 Provide formal and informal opportunities for professional development

5.3.1: Provide opportunities for staff at all levels to undertake formal training and development if the skills that they need cannot be learned on the job or in-house, and encourage them to take up the offer. Budget time and money for formal development opportunities, and be transparent about what support is available.

“There needs to be more willingness to support outside training if it’s not something you can learn within the organisation. An inclusive approach to professional development means having the budget for if you need to go and learn elsewhere, and an openness about what would be covered and what would not be covered, especially if you’re having to travel for things. It’s always slightly uncomfortable to have to negotiate that if you don’t know what kind of figures they’re working with and what they’re willing to spend on a development plan. You don’t want to feel like you’re being pushy about things. The information should just be out there, and training should be encouraged and viewed as a positive.”

“There are certain things that you only realise once you’re in a role, like I could brush up on Excel. I need to be able to say, ‘I need to be trained properly. You need to pay for training.’ But I don’t want to bring that to [my organisation’s] attention because I don’t want to seem like I have a skill deficit and that I can’t do the job. Organisations need to come from a more enabling attitude and say, ‘I know you might have difficulty doing this part of the job. That’s okay, because we’ve got some money in the budget. We’ll train you and see how you go.’”

5.3.2: Use your network to facilitate introductions for staff and help them to start conversations so they can start building their own network to support their development. Doing well in the arts is often reliant upon having strong networks and connections, but people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to have existing relationships and contacts in the arts. The concept of networking can also be unfamiliar or uncomfortable for them if they’ve never done it before. 

“It’s 100 percent problematic that the arts is so based around networks and relationships, because not everyone has those relationships inherently. Probably only a small percentage of the population has them. If you don’t and you come from a background or experiences that are at odds with that, it’s even more difficult because then it is like, ‘How do I foster those [relationships], and how do I even build a network?’ [If the people around you won’t share their network,] you’ll constantly be outside of one, so you can’t cross through.”

“[My line manager] knows lots of organisations [in our area] and wanted to introduce me to them, even though they were external, because they might be useful in various different ways, just in terms of learning and engaging with each other. What it meant was that I know how to navigate these spaces now from loads of conversations with her and the different introductions she’d made. I know how to interact with people and say, ‘I’m looking to do this thing. Do you think that would be a thing that you’d be able to facilitate?’ I now feel comfortable doing that.”

Final Thoughts

This Toolkit demonstrates why dialogue and conversation are key to creating change. Asking open-minded questions from a place of empathy is one of the most powerful ways of creating a space for change.

Regularly checking in with people to build a relationship, listening, and following through on commitments will go a long way to developing a supportive working culture where people can be brave and do their best work.

So, to practice making progress, we offer these final thoughts:

  • Be curious about people, their goals, and what support they need to achieve them
  • Be prepared to get things wrong, and have plans and policies in place to learn from your mistakes
  • Be ambitious about what changes your organisation can make to support meaningful, long-term progress.

And remember:

“This isn’t something that’s just going to happen in a month or a year. I think it’s really easy for organisations to assume that they need to shake everything up overnight to show that they’re progressing, but actually, those of us that need these places to progress know how long it takes. Everyone is aware of the fact that change doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Persistent change and actual beneficial change take a while because foundations have to be laid.”


Appendix 1: Methodology

This Toolkit was developed through a programme of research that aimed to centre the authentic voices of individuals from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds and their lived experience of working in the arts and cultural sector. The methodology for this research was designed by independent researcher Melissa Wong, in consultation with the Toolkit steering group, which was made up of representatives from Jerwood Arts, people make it work, 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates, and 2020-22 WJCB Host organisations.

The research draws on three main sources of evidence. Data collection from all three sources focused on identifying ‘what works’ in creating an inclusive workplace for people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds, and took an intersectional approach. The research focused on three themes: recruitment; induction and support in post; and professional development and onward progression.

  • Group conversations: Three group conversations were held with Fellows and Alumni Associates. Each conversation focused on one of the three themes. The purpose of the group conversations was to create space for collaborative reflection and ideas generation. Each group conversation lasted around two hours and was attended by seven to eight contributors. The group conversations were facilitated by people make it work, with the independent researcher as listener-in-residence.
  • One-to-one conversations: A series of one-to-one conversations was carried out with 10 Fellows and Alumni Associates by the independent researcher. The purpose of the one-to-one conversations was to provide space for confidential sharing and deeper dives into specific topics. Each one-to-one conversation lasted around 60 to 90 minutes and covered all three themes, as well as more holistic reflections and suggestions.
  • Programme survey responses: The evaluation report for the fourth edition of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme, which ran from 2020 to 2022, was reviewed for reflections and suggestions from the Fellows in relation to inclusion in the workplace. These came from the Fellows baseline survey and the Fellows end-of-programme survey.

The research took place between July and August 2022. All 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates were invited to contribute to this research, and 23 Fellows and Alumni Associates took part in one or more elements of the research. All contributors identified as being from a working class/low socio-economic background, whether because of their eligibility for free school meals, their parent’s/carer’s highest level of academic qualification, their parent’s/carer’s occupation while they were growing up, or other life circumstances.

Within this, they were a highly diverse group with a range of other identities and circumstances that intersect with their socio-economic background to impact on their experience of inclusion in the workplace. Contributors included both binary and non-binary gender identities and sexual orientations. They came from a broad spectrum of ethnic backgrounds and ranged in age from young to middle adulthood. About a third had a disability or long-term health condition, and nearly a quarter had caring responsibilities. Contributors came from nearly every region of England, as well as Scotland and Wales. Their academic backgrounds included further education, undergraduate, and postgraduate qualifications, and they worked across diverse corners of the sector, including performing, visual, and literary arts, as well as multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary practices.

The data collected was analysed by applying thematic codes at two levels. First, the data was coded according to the project themes of recruitment, induction and support in post, and professional development and onward progression, as well as overarching reflections and suggestions on inclusion in the workplace. Then, within each theme, it was coded according to ideas and concepts that emerged from the data. These two levels of codes provide the structure for this Toolkit. Where necessary, identifying details have been removed from quotes in order to protect the anonymity of the contributors.

Appendix 2: About Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries

What is Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries? 

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) has been the leading UK-wide programme focused on socio-economic diversity and inclusion in the arts since 2010. The programme is dedicated to supporting extraordinary early-career artists, curators, producers, and creatives to thrive. Working in partnership with leading arts and cultural organisations, WJCB takes an inclusive and intersectional approach to recruitment, professional development, and organisational change.

WJCB is about leveling the playing field for highly competitive early-career roles in the arts, working to ensure those with potential, but without the financial backing, networks and cultural capital, are given the opportunity to thrive. Fair access to working in the arts and cultural sector remains an urgent issue, with those from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds still significantly under-represented amongst the artists and employees of UK theatres, festivals, galleries, and arts organisations of all kinds. WJCB seeks to interrogate and remove barriers to entry and progression, and enable individuals to build careers in the arts with confidence.

Over four editions, WJCB has created 173 jobs for early-career creatives from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds, alongside producing practical toolkits on inclusive employment practices to drive organisational change. WJCB was created by Kate Danielson and Shonagh Manson for Jerwood Arts in 2010-12. Further editions took place in 2012-14, 2017-19, and 2020-22.

About the 2020-22 WJCB programme

The 2020-22 WJCB programme supported 50 new salaried jobs (‘Fellowships’) in arts and cultural organisations across the UK, for individuals from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds. ‘Fellows’ refers to the individuals who took up a Fellowship over 2020-22, and ‘Alumni Associates’ refers to eight of the 2017-19 Fellows who continued to support and advise on the next programme.

For 2020-22, the programme broadened its focus from supporting individuals to ‘fit in’ to arts organisations (a bottom-up approach) to providing resources, support and an organisational change programme for Host organisations (a top-down approach). This shift responded to learning from previous editions of WJCB and wider changes in understanding ‘what works’ to support social mobility in the arts. By focusing on creating organisational change alongside individual support, WJCB has greater potential to shift mindsets, embed inclusive practices for the long term, and ripple out across the sector.

50 Host organisations were selected from over 250 applications to an open call by Jerwood Arts in February 2020. Starting in the midst of the pandemic in September 2020, the Host organisations engaged in a three-part online organisational change programme led by people make it work over 12 months. Three individuals from each Host organisation—over 150 people—took part. By including the Fellow’s line manager, a senior executive, and a trustee, the programme encouraged vertical learning and reflection within organisations. The organisational change programme focused on supporting Hosts to design inclusive recruitment campaigns for their Fellowships, integrate induction and progression planning for their Fellows, and consider how to embed long-term organisational and sector change.

From January 2021, 51 Fellows were recruited into salaried, year-long artistic and creative roles within the Host organisations. From April 2021, the Fellows took part in their own online professional development programme led by people make it work, and were connected to the Jerwood Arts team for wider support. The Fellows each received funding for a mentor supported by Arts Emergency, and had access to a range of progression support as they reached the end of their Fellowship year. In November 2021, Fellows came together for a day of in-person workshops at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.

In 2022, Fellows took part in Creatives Explore in partnership with the British Council. This provided them with a unique opportunity to explore how transnational connections might help increase their career sustainability, connect to peers in Europe, and build a community of cultural workers and artists beyond the UK.

Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd conducted an independent evaluation throughout the 2020-22 WJCB programme. The final report will be published in spring 2023.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2020-22 programme was designed and delivered by Jerwood Arts, supported by people make it work, Professor Dave O’Brien, and Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd. It was funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Art Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, British Council, Jerwood Arts, and PRS Foundation.

2020-22 Host organisations

Aberdeen Performing Arts, Actors Touring Company (consortium with LAMDA), ARC/Stockton Arts Centre, Artes Mundi, Aspex Gallery, ATLAS Arts, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Bluecoat, Bristol Beacon, British Library, Clean Break Theatre Company, Clod Ensemble, CommonWealth (consortium with National Theatre Wales), Creative Folkestone, Creative Scene, Derby Theatre, Diverse City/Extraordinary Bodies, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Eden Court Highlands, Edinburgh Printmakers, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Ffotogallery Wales, Fierce Festival, Grand Union, Heart of Glass, Leeds Playhouse (consortium with Tutti Frutti), Liverpool Philharmonic Society, Manchester Museum, Museums Sheffield, New Writing South, Oxford Contemporary Music, Prime Cut Productions, Punch, Red Note Ensemble, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s Arts Service, Royal Exchange Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Rural Arts North Yorkshire, Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Site Gallery, Studio Wayne McGregor, Sunderland Culture, The NewBridge Project, The Work Room (consortium with Tramway), Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Tŷ Cerdd/Music Centre Wales, Welsh National Opera, Wildworks, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Appendix 3: Further resources

Annabel Jackson Associates. 2019. The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries: Evaluation Report 2017-19. External evaluation of the third edition of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, delivered by Jerwood Arts in partnership with the British Council, which broadened the programme through the addition of international placements and an international training trip, new financial support for self-directed professional development, and an increased focus on evaluation and sharing learnings from the programme.

Annabel Jackson Associates. Forthcoming 2023. Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries: Evaluation Report 2020-22. External evaluation of the fourth edition of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, designed and delivered by Jerwood Arts, and supported by people make it work, Professor Dave O’Brien, and Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd., which expanded the eligibility criteria to include non-graduates, added an organisational development programme to drive inclusive practice in Host organisations, and restructured other support elements to form a bespoke follow-on programme for Fellows.

Anti-Racism Touring Rider. 2021. Anti-Racism Touring Rider. Toolkit coordinated and supported by a group of national touring theatre companies and based on consultation with organisations and freelancers across the country, that aims to establish a baseline of expectations and support for anti-racist practice among stakeholders on a touring production.

Art Fund. 2022. ‘It’s about Handing over Power’: The Impact of Ethnic Diversity Initiatives on Curatorial Roles in the UK Arts and Heritage Sector 1998-2021. Research report by Black-led organisations Museum X and Culture& commissioned by Art Fund, that highlights the limited number, quality, and impact of diversity initiatives aimed at curatorial roles in the arts and heritage sector, and sets out recommendations for the museums sector and funders to sustainably increase diversity and equality in the curatorial profession.

Arts Professional. 2022a. ArtsPay: Survey 2022. Research report by Arts Professional and Baker Richards on pay in the arts and cultural sector, based on an online survey with over 2,000 responses from full- and part-time employees, freelance workers, and business owner-managers, and comparisons with the findings of the previous survey in 2018.

——. 2022b. Arts Salaries Show Evidence of Class Premium. Blog post with a deeper dive into the 2022 ArtsPay survey based on socio-economic background, showing lower earnings and a reported lack of support for workers from low socio-economic backgrounds.

The Brokerage. 2022. The Overlooked Advantage: Exploring the Strengths Rooted in the Experience of Disadvantage and the Steps Employers Can Take Towards Inclusion. Research report, based on a literature review and focus groups with young people and employers, that identifies key strengths of young people from working class backgrounds and minoritised ethnic groups, and the steps that employers can take to redress the imbalance of representation of these groups in professional jobs.

——. 2023. How to Be an Inclusive Line Manager. Short guide for anyone managing young people on internships, apprenticeships, placements, graduate schemes, or other early-careers programmes, outlining inclusive line management principles that employers can focus on to ensure that their early-careers programmes are inclusive and effective.

Brook, O., D. O’Brien, and M. Taylor. 2018. Panic! Social Class, Taste, and Inequalities in the Creative Industries. Research report, supported by Create London and Arts Emergency, that summarises a set of academic papers investigating inequalities in the creative and cultural workforce, with a focus on social class background and its intersection with other issues, including attitudes and values, experiences of working for free, social networks, and cultural tastes.

Carey, H., D. O’Brien, and O. Gable. 2021. Social Mobility in the Creative Economy: Rebuilding and Levelling Up? Research report on the causes of class-based disadvantage in the creative industries and recommendations on how to advance social mobility in the creative economy, based on an extensive literature review and 150 interviews with stakeholders, businesses, and workers across advertising, fashion, publishing, and screen.

Carey, H., et al. 2020. Getting In and Getting On: Class, Participation, and Job Quality in the UK Creative Industries. Research report from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre that analyses Labour Force Survey and Understanding Society survey data to reveal the widespread class imbalance in the UK creative industries and interaction of class with other factors, such as gender, ethnicity, disability, and skill level, to create a ‘double disadvantage’ to accessing creative industry jobs.

Contemporary Art Society. 2022. Doing the Work: Embedding Anti-Racism and Decolonisation into Museum Practice. Report with critical responses to a workshop series, co-produced by the Contemporary Art Society and the Decolonising Arts Institute at the University of the Arts London, that aimed to support museum professionals to engage meaningfully and practically in anti-racist and/or decolonial practice.

Creative Access. 2022. Creative Access Disability Survey Results: 2022. Research report on disability equity in the creative industries, based on a survey of 770 creative industries professionals who identify as disabled, Deaf, or neurodivergent, with recommendations on how creative employers can improve access for disabled applicants and support progression within the sector.

Creative and Cultural Skills. 2020. Best Practice Recruitment Guide for Creative Leaders. Guide created by Creative and Cultural Skills as part of a national programme to ensure a more diverse intake of talent and a broader range of routes into the creative industries, which aims to help employers reflect on their approach to recruitment and ways to improve their recruitment processes to support greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Culture Collective. 2022. Accessible Recruitment: What We’ve Learned So Far. Blog post with reflections from three organisations which are part of the Culture Collective network of 26 participatory arts projects across Scotland, on what they have been doing to make their recruitment processes more accessible.

Inc Arts UK. 2020a. Hold On: Diversity and Managing in the Arts. (full report / summary report) Research report produced in collaboration between Inc Arts UK and the Bridge Group, which examines inequality in the arts management workforce and provides recommendations for advancing ethnic, socio-economic, and gender diversity, based on a survey of over 500 people working in a range of arts management roles and interviews with 60 people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

——. 2020b. Inc Arts Unlock. Toolkit that offers arts organisations a practical, step-by-step process to take anti-racist action in the workplace, comprising over 100 actions based on the testimony, recommendations, and demands of those with lived experience of racism in the arts.

Jerwood Arts. 2017. Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries: 2014-16 Evaluation Report. Internal evaluation of the second edition of the Creative Bursaries programme, designed and managed by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation (now Jerwood Arts) with the support of a consortium of private trusts and foundations, which expanded the programme to UK-wide and greatly increased the professional development support offered to participants through the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Training Programme.

——. 2019. Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers. Toolkit developed by Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group, based on practical ideas from the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) programme, case studies from WJCB Host organisations, and research and advice from other sectors.

Jesse, Raquel. 2022. They Look Down on Us: Insights from the Diverse Working Class on Race and Class in Britain Today. Drawing on interviews, focus groups, message testing, and a national survey of 2,200 adults, this research report gives space and voice to the lived experience and perceptions of working class people in order to reveal the diversity of this group and produce an intersectional understanding of class.

O’Brien, Dave. 2023. From Social Mobility to Social Justice: Reflections on Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2020-22.  Reflection paper on the changing context for the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (WJCB) programme 2020-22, foregrounding the programme’s shift of focus from individual mobility into artistic and cultural jobs to organisational and structural transformations, which reflects learning from previous iterations of WJCB, and more general changes in cultural policy and cultural practice in the UK.

Social Mobility Commission. 2021a. Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion Employers’ Toolkit: Cross-Industry Edition. Toolkit created by the Bridge Group, in collaboration with the Social Mobility Commission and a wide range of employers, charities, and membership bodies, to support cross-industry, larger employers to attract and develop employees from all socio-economic backgrounds.

——. 2021b. Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit: Creative Industries. Creative industries-focused version of the Social Mobility Commission’s toolkit for employers on supporting socio-economic diversity and inclusion, created in consultation with over 50 charities, membership bodies, and employers across the creative industries, and drawing on research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre at Nesta.

——. 2022. The Building Blocks: An Employer’s Guide to Improving Social Mobility in the Workplace. Distilled version of the Social Mobility Commission’s Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion Employers’ Toolkit, with simple, first-step guidance for businesses and organisations of all sizes on data, culture and leadership, recruitment, and outreach practices to kickstart their social mobility strategy.

Social Mobility Foundation. 2022. Social Mobility Employer Index. Annual benchmarking exercise that assesses and monitors organisations’ progress in supporting social mobility, providing tailored reports to organisations on where they are performing well and how they can improve, and leading to a ranking of the top 75 employers for social mobility in the UK.

Sutton Trust. 2020. Social Mobility in the Workplace: An Employer’s Guide. Practical guide aimed at employers across all sectors looking for detailed advice to improve social mobility in the workplace, covering a wide range of issues, from measuring the socio-economic make-up of the workforce to contextual recruitment to best practice advice on routes into the workplace.

UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre. 2019. Theatre Casting Toolkit. Practical resource for anyone involved in the theatre casting process on diversifying the range of actors on stages and in rehearsal rooms, commissioned by UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre and created by Tonic based on a large-scale consultative process and extensive testing with a group of six theatres.

Unlimited. 2019. Ten Top Tips for Accessible Recruitment. Blog post with ten practical tips on making recruitment more accessible for people with disabilities, including a short film version with options for audio description and BSL interpretation.

Wee, C., and V. Spaine. 2022. Fostering Equity in the Visual Arts Sector: Findings from the CVAN Fair and Equitable Programme on Creating Conditions for Artists and Arts Workers from Underrepresented and Marginalised Communities to Thrive. Research report, produced as part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network’s Fair and Equitable programme and commitment to instituting equity within the visual arts in England, which identifies emergent themes and recommendations for the visual arts sector around intersectionality, structural conditions, hopes for the future, stage of career, and cultures of belonging.

Wreyford, N. D. O’Brien, and T. Dent. 2021. Creative Majority: An All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity Report into ‘What Works’ to Enhance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Creative Sector. Research report and policy recommendations to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity on ‘what works’ in recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse creative sector, based on a systematic literature review, a series of roundtable discussions with industry representatives, and submissions received through a public consultation.

Legal disclaimer

This Toolkit is intended to support awareness of the challenges experienced by people from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds working in the arts and cultural sector, and reflect on positive action that could be taken to support their inclusion. It is not a substitute for professional or legal advice, and it should not be relied upon as such. We would recommend seeking specialist advice based on your organisation’s specific circumstances before taking, or refraining from taking, any action on the basis of the information in this Toolkit.


Team (Work) in Practice: Collective, insights, ideas, and challenges to drive socio-economic inclusivity in your organisation.

Published March 2023 by Jerwood Arts

Toolkit steering group

Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Arts

Della Hill, 2017-19 WJCB Fellow at Literature Wales

Lara Kester, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at Aspex Portsmouth

Amy Leach, Leeds Playhouse, 2020-22 WJCB Host organisation

Lizzie Lovejoy, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at ARC Stockton Arts Centre

Louis Palfrey, 2017-19 WJCB Fellow at Open School East

Helen Pheby, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2020-22 WJCB Host organisation

Steph Power, Tŷ Cerdd/Music Centre Wales, 2020-22 WJCB Host organisation

Joe Rose, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at the Royal Shakespeare Company

Clare Thurman, Director of Learning and Communities, people make it work

Shalikah Walters-Watson, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at Site Gallery

Melissa Wong, Research Consultant

Toolkit working group

Kate Danielson, Director, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries

Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Arts

Kaya La Bonté-Hurst, Project Manager, Jerwood Arts

Clíona Malin, Team Assistant, Jerwood Arts

Jon Opie, Deputy Director, Jerwood Arts

Clare Thurman, Director of Learning and Communities, people make it work

Melissa Wong, Research Consultant

Toolkit Associates

Jodie Cole, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at Extraordinary Bodies

Ink Asher Hemp, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at Eden Court Highlands

Della Hill, 2017-19 WJCB Fellow at Literature Wales

Louis Palfrey, 2017-19 WJCB Fellow at Open School East

Lou Bartley Sophocleous, 2017-19 WJCB Fellow at Duckie

Kyle Stead, 2020-22 WJCB Fellow at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s Art Service

Research and Project Management

Melissa Wong, Research Consultant

Workshop facilitation

Vicki Igbokwe, Director of Empowerment, people make it work

Clare Thurman, Director of Learning and Communities, people make it work

Design and Creation


Take Courage


ManropeVenus SB


Hydar Dewachi

English audio

Chris Lloyd

English easy read

Projects Easy Read Online Ltd.

Welsh translations and Welsh audio

Rhys Iorwerth Cyf.


FOUR Communications


Tim Jukes

Special Thanks

Special thanks to

Dave O’Brien, Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, University of Sheffield

Khazana Khan, HR consultant

Finally, a huge debt of gratitude to the 2020-22 WJCB Fellows and Alumni Associates who generously shared their experiences and expertise. This Toolkit would not have been possible without them.